Merck Manual

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Understanding Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography
Understanding Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography
Understanding Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

In endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), an endoscope (a flexible viewing tube), is inserted into the mouth and through the stomach into the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine). Then a contrast agent (a liquid that can be seen on x-rays) is injected into the biliary tract through the sphincter of Oddi. The dye outlines any blockage.

Surgical instruments can also be passed through the endoscope, allowing a doctor to remove a stone in a bile duct or insert a tube (stent) to bypass a blockage in the duct that is caused by a stone, scarring, or cancer.